8 Oklahomans Arrested in National Drug Cartel Sting
By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Authorities delivered a crippling blow to one of the nation's most dangerous and deadly drug organizations by arresting hundreds of people, including eight Oklahomans.
This week during " Project Coronado," the feds had their sights set on the infamous La Familia drug cartel. The group is one of the most feared drug cartels in all of North America.
Being one of the newest and most violent of Mexico's drug cartels, La Familia has been known to attack, torture and behead innocent civilians and make a living by pumping an endless supply of drugs into the United States. La Familia is also responsible for most of the nation's methamphetamine.
"We believe that these arrests have crippled La Familia and will make their ability to fund their operation in Mexico and to maintain their activities in the United States much more difficult if not impossible," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Bartlett.
The national strike dubbed "Project Coronado" was carried out in 38 cities in 19 states. More than 300 were arrested including eight men who lived around Tulsa.
Oklahoma's Bureau of Narcotics said the presence of Mexican drug cartels in Oklahoma is no surprise.
"A tremendous amount of drugs consumed in the United States are either Mexican produced or Mexican shipped," said Mark Woodward, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.
While the La Familia cartel is well documented in Oklahoma, it's not the largest. That distinction goes to the Juarez cartel found in all corners of the state.
"It's not just Oklahoma City or Tulsa where these groups set up shop. They send lieutenants out to smaller areas where they think they can fly under the radar and go unnoticed," Woodward said.
Most of those arrested are facing a wide range of state and federal drug charges. At the raids in Oklahoma, authorities seized 20 pounds of meth, cocaine and several firearms.
It took a number of agencies four years to organize the operation. More than 3,000 agents and police officers across the country carried out the arrests this week.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Tulsa says eight suspects were arrested in the Tulsa area, including the communities of Tulsa, Jenks and Owasso.
- Ruben Garcia, male, age 29, listed residence in Tulsa and Mesquite, TX
- Mauricio Banuelos, male, age 25, listed residence in Tulsa
- Alejandra Romero, female, age 23, listed residence in Tulsa
- Rubi Garcia, female, age 21, listed residence in Jenks
- Leonel Ledezma, male, age 26, listed residence in Tulsa
- Juan Antonio Martinez, male, age unk, listed residence in Tulsa
- Oscar Palacios, male, age 24, listed residence in Tulsa
- Gilberto Rivera, male, age unk, listed residence in Owasso